Facial recognition regulations evolve, Industries of the Future Act introduced and trade deal with China tackles tech transfer

Worth Knowing

Facial Recognition Controversy Deepens: More than 600 U.S. law enforcement agencies have quietly begun using a facial recognition app from start-up Clearview AI, finds a New York Times investigation. The system, which scrapes images from Facebook, YouTube, Venmo and others, has amassed more than three billion photos. Clearview’s volume of photos and lack of regulation or independent testing have exacerbated existing concerns about the increasing use of facial recognition. Meanwhile, the patchwork of state and local regulations on facial recognition continues to evolve: Last week, Cambridge became the fourth city in Massachusetts to limit the technology, and the California law prohibiting facial recognition use by law enforcement went into effect on January 1.
AI Featured at 53rd Annual CES: Nearly 170,000 people attended the 2020 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month. Much of the discussion centered on AI, including:
In addition, exhibitors unveiled a large variety of AI applications, ranging from AI avatars to autonomous navigation systems to virtual assistants.
DeepMind Publishes Protein Folding Results: DeepMind published a study on AlphaFold, their protein folding predicting system, in top science journal Nature last week. First posed in 1962, the protein folding problem asks how a given chain of amino acids folds into the 3D structure of a protein. Answering this problem is an important step in understanding the biochemistry of living organisms. DeepMind’s discovery came in December 2018 when AlphaFold won CASP, the biennial protein prediction competition, by correctly predicting 24 out of 43 structures; the runner-up predicted only 14. AlphaFold’s progress demonstrates the potential for scientific advancement through machine learning.
Government Updates

Senators Introduce Bill to Support R&D for AI and Other Industries: Sens. Wicker, Gardner and Baldwin introduced the Industries of the Future Act last week. The bipartisan legislation would require a plan to increase federal investments in “industries of the future” — including AI, quantum computing and biotechnology — to $10B per year by 2025. It would also establish an Industries of the Future Coordination Council to advise the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on federal measures necessary to maintain the U.S. global edge in emerging technologies.

Trade Deal With China Prompts Debate Over Tech Provisions: President Trump signed a “Phase One” trade agreement with China on January 15 that included sections on intellectual property theft and technology transfer. China agreed to stop requiring U.S. companies to transfer technology as a condition of operating in the country. It also committed to strengthening legal protections for American intellectual property — including harsher punishments for IP theft — and improving the criminal and civil procedures for combatting online patent and copyright infringement. However, the agreement has triggered debate over the likelihood of implementation and enforcement, while prospects for a "Phase Two" deal remain uncertain.

House Holds Hearing on Facial Recognition: On January 15, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform held its third hearing on facial recognition technology. Chairwoman Maloney indicated that the committee plans to introduce “common-sense” facial recognition legislation in the very near future. Despite its expanded private-sector use, facial recognition is “just not ready for prime time,” she said. This hearing follows a National Institute of Standards and Technology report finding that commercial facial recognition systems misidentify women and minorities at high rates. Ranking Member Jordan also committed to advancing a bipartisan bill.

In Translation
CSET's translations of significant foreign language documents on AI

China’s Strategy for Science and Technology Innovation: National 13th Five-Year Plan for S&T Innovation: Translation of a PRC State Council plan for science and technology innovation from 2016 to 2020. The first half of the plan details specific technologies that are near term priorities for research and investment. The second half discusses proposed changes to China’s S&T infrastructure.

WAIC Proposed Guidelines for AI Security: World AI Conference Security and Rule of Law Guidelines: Translation of a document issued just before the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai in August 2019. The document consists of proposed legal guidelines to address a wide range of potential dangers posed by the rise of AI technology, including bugs, hackers, algorithmic bias and unemployment.

What We’re Reading

Strategy: Artificial Intelligence in Support of Defense (available in English and French), Report of the AI Task Force of the French Ministry of the Armies (September 2019)

Report: The Global AI Index, Tortoise Media (December 2019)

Article: The Offense-Defense Balance of Scientific Knowledge: Does Publishing AI Research Reduce Misuse?, Toby Shevlane, Allan Dafoe (December 2019)

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